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Carnegie meeting Thursday to display plans

SNOHOMISH — More than 107 years of history, two foundations’ competing visions and one set of architectural drawings will all be aired Thursday night at an informal community meeting to determine the fate of the Carnegie Building
at First Street and Cedar Avenue.
Everyone is invited to learn, speak, and see ARC Architects’ conceptual sketches during the presentation, scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11 at the Snohomish Aquatic Center, 516 Maple Ave. The meeting is the second of three hosted by the city as part of its path to restore and reopen the historic site.
The storied 1910 structure, a former library and the city government’s oldest and largest public building, has been the subject of debate for decades. That debate will come to a head when a new group, the 105 Cedar Avenue Foundation, and the Snohomish Carnegie Foundation, whose members have been involved in city plans for the project since 2002, discuss their competing proposals. Each group will speak for 15 minutes.
Cost and appearance are the most controversial of the many issues surrounding the site.
The city initially planned to retain a 1968, 5,200-plus square foot annex which many residents call an eyesore. That $2.6 million 2005 plan was replaced in 2011 with one doubling the cost to $5.1 million and pivoting from making minor updates to the annex to its destruction.
That costliest and most complex plan includes a complete interior and exterior refurbishment of the 1910 building, razing the mid-century annex and potentially paves the way for a veteran’s memorial park.
Estimates for the varying renovation proposals
range from approximately $100,000 to simply fix the annex roof, according to 105 Cedar Avenue Foundation member Morgan Davis, to the $5.1 million 2011 plan, but actual costs and even firm current-day estimates are yet to be determined.
Concerned residents, including the 105 Cedar Avenue Foundation’s founder Bill Betten, mobilized not only because of the cost and concerns about losing such a large community meeting space, but because the original plan called for private fundraising while today’s plan has the city fully funding the revamp. The city anticipates having
$1.65 million available for the project, and would need to find at least $4 million more through state grants and other revenue streams to complete it.
The Snohomish Carnegie Foundation supports the 2011 plan, as did most of the prior City Council.
“We feel positive. There is a lot of strength to this project,” said Carnegie Foundation President Melody Clemans, who pointed to the guidance and unanimous plan decisions by the council during what she called an arduous, thorough process.
Clemans added that a cost benefit analysis performed at Everett Community College showed it was not a justifiable or feasible proposition to repair and
maintain the building through rental income. Supporters of the 2011 plan also point to the opportunity to enhance the beauty of the block by replacing the more modern 1968 annex architecture with green space for gatherings and attractive landscaping.
The 105 Cedar Avenue Foundation offers three alternatives. Their preferred option, more similar to the city’s original 2005 plan is what Davis calls a compromise.
The 105 Cedar Avenue Foundation's preferred plan would reveal the the west side of the 1910 facade, resulting in three of the four sides of the building being visible.*
And while the 2011 plan would fund ADA accessibility upgrades, Davis pointed to the existing accessibility of the annex as another cost-effective boon.
This is “really a slam dunk decision if we can get the public to understand it,” Davis said.
On the low end of the cost scale, an estimated $100,000 plan would repair the Annex’s roof, allowing that building to reopen for various community purposes, Davis said.
The city’s first community meeting on the topic was Sept. 12, 2017 and the third and final is tentatively scheduled within the next 12 weeks. The council is slated to receive a presentation on the preferred renovation option this spring and may then approve cost estimates and construction drawings.

* - Correction:
The details about which sides of the building would be revealed were misunderstood. This revision corrects the copy.


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